Latinawood says her dream retreat has always been to stay at a nature lodge and have it serenaded by live acoustic music. “We wanted a respite that’s accessible,” she says. “We can all get stuck in all of the tourist hustle and bustle.”
What caught their eye when they arrived at Villa Capacitava, an eco-friendly resort just west of San Jose, was the peacefulness of the area. “We were in a strange part of the world and I had never heard of Costa Rica. This was my Caribbean home in the middle of a jungle,” Latinawood explains.
Another novelty was the location. On the edge of the San José natural park, in the middle of a jungle, the 10-room, 360-acre property is situated in a natural setting. They chose Capacitava to begin their trip because it had a unique sustainable concept.
The property, which opened to guests in late 2013, has an exclusive membership that allows guests to request a two-hour visit with the chef and the head bartender, both of whom are locals. One of the most convenient ways to get there is on the resort’s complimentary six-seat boat that drops guests off at the dock, where they can choose their own transport on a cable car to the mainland.
Guests also have the option of walking to the Bay of Boca Chica to swim in the warm sea just a few minutes away from the property. They can also go for a nature walk to a nearby museum with views of the lagoon. Each part of the experience is extremely eco-friendly and developed by local leaders.
Building and managing the property (as well as some of the features, like water cooling systems and electricity) were accomplished without the aid of an outside contractor or builder. Almost everything that Latinawood and her husband, David, found was thought up or made themselves.
The Fetch Barn, a collection of three rustic structures that house a working cattle yard, water buffalo, and a cattle arena, was built entirely from Adirondack-style boards with the exception of the cinderblock embankment that separates them.
The restaurant, though, actually came from one of David’s previous businesses, and it’s a mix of restaurant, bar, and banquet space in a unique setting. Each flat-top table has a series of drawers at one end for storing salads and sides. They slide open to reveal a walk-in refrigerator. David handcrafts wooden cutlery and utensils from sustainable materials. There’s also a sushi bar that uses reclaimed ship’s cabins and old cowhide.
Villa Capacitava also offers a well-appointed spa, which has a total of eight treatment rooms as well as a small heated pool and fitness center. It has one of the most intense and modern treatment programs in Costa Rica, with an emphasis on active relaxation. Each of the unique treatments, such as ‘prepped delights,’ come directly from a local health food chef who maintains his own large library of natural recipes.
The resort is also known for its support of environmental causes. In 2010, the property led the road closure project for the Osa Peninsula’s turtle conservation project, project community service, and an exhibition on the character of women in the region.